Injuries, especially the loss of LB Clay Matthews, were the big story in the Green Bay Packers win over the Lions. But looking back at the game, I was really impressed with how the offensive line controlled the game. The Packers have struggled in recent seasons against the Lions's defensive line, but they pushed them around on Sunday, protected QB Aaron Rodgers, and opened big rushing lanes. I couldn't believe the Packers only scored six points in the first half.
But something that stood out for me was how much of a field position battle that game was. The Lions started seven of their first nine drives exactly on the 20 yard line after a touchback. They had to work all the way down the field for everything, and QB Matthew Stafford couldn't do it without a big play option and a collection backup receivers.
The Packers were a similar story and their three time consuming drives in the first half only led to two field goals. They too had to work all the way down the field on every possession, and they started inside their own 30 yard line on every drive until they recovered an onside kick at the end. There were no turnovers by either team to create field position, and no big plays on offense until WR Randall Cobb had his big run on one drive and WR James Jones had an 83 yard touchdown reception on the next.
There's no lesson to be learned here, other than to reinforce the idea that it's hard to score when every play goes for a short gain and your field position is lousy. Still, moving down the field for six scoring drives should be enough to win the game, and it worked last Sunday.